Glossary of Garden Terms

Acid: Refers to medium or nutrient solution with a low pH; an acidic solution has a pH below 7.

Actionmycetes: Filament-shaped bacteria involved in the decomposition of organic matter.

Actively Aerated Compost Tea: (AACT) is a liquid extraction of compost using high volumes of oxygen to maintain aerobic conditions and a more precise cultivation and extraction of beneficial organisms.  The increased oxygen levels and complex foods added to the brew will act as a catalyst feeding both active organisms and dormant spores into an accelerated growth.

Aeration: A process of supplying soil and roots with air or oxygen.

Aerobic: Process that requires oxygen.

Aerobic Organism: any organism or living thing with an oxygen-based metabolism

Alkaline: Refers to medium or nutrient solution with a high pH; any pH over 7 is considered alkaline.

Anerobic: Without oxygen

Anerobic Organisim: any organism that does not require oxygen for growth.

Annual: Plants that germinate, grow, set seeds and dies in a single growing season. 

Amoeba: A single-celled soil dwelling organism.

Astrological Gardening: Cultivating and planting with the phases of the moon and positions of the planets. An awareness of the position of the moon, constellations, and planets when planning garden activities.

Bean Innoculant: Rhizobacteria that live symbiotically with legumes, such as beans and peas etc. These bacteria live within specialized nodules on the root systems of legumes, where they process atmospheric nitrogen into a form available for the plants to use.

Bacteria: Single-cell microorganisms existing in the soil as parasites or free-living. Bacteria can be beneficial or have harmful pathogenic properties.

Biodynamic gardening: Organic gardening practices developed by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner.

Bloom Booster or Bloom Stimulant: Fertilizers high in phosphorus (P) that increases flower yield and blooming.

Carbon to Nitrogen Ratio: (C/N) Percentage of carbon content to nitrogen content.

Cold compost: Composting with little or no heat.

Compost: A mix of organic matter and minerals that has been decomposed and recycled as a fertilizer and soil amendment.

Compost Tea is a cold processed water extraction of compost. Compost Teas are typically fed specific ingredients and brewed for a set period of time to cultivate high populations of select organisms present in the compost.

Cover Crop: A crop grown to protect soil from erosion, prevent weed growth, and to improve soil fertility. Usually turned into soil as a green manure crop.

Earthworms: A soil dwelling burrowing creatures of the family Lumbricidae. Earthworms feed on decaying organic matter and play an important role in soil aeration.

Edaphon: A collective term for all the organisms living present within the soil.

Ectomycorrhizae Fungi: A soil dwelling beneficial fungi that colonize the outside of plants roots and form strands throughout the soil. Ectomycorrhizae Fungi are preferred by hardwood and conifers, form a web colonizing the outside of the root.

Endomycorrhizae Fungi: A soil dwelling beneficial fungi that colonize the inside of plants roots and form strands throughout the soil. Endomycorrhizae Fungi are preferred by most annuals, perennials, vegetables, grasses, shrubs, and softwood trees.

Fodder Crop: A plant crop grown specifically to feed domesticated livestock (including worms) or compost.

Green manure: A type of cover crop grown primarily to provide nutrients and nitrogen rich organic matter to compost or the soil.  Green manure crops are commonly associated with organic agricultural practices.

Hypha or Hyphae: A hypha (plural hyphae) is a long, branching filamentous structure of a fungus, and also of unrelated Actinobacteria.  In most fungi, hyphae are the main mode of vegetative growth, and are collectively called a mycelium.

High-Protein Meals: Grains or legumes usually sold for use as animal feeds or as organic fertilizers. High-protein meals work well to raise the temperature of compost. Corn meals and corn gluten, soy, alfalfa, and cotton-seed meals are all examples of high-protein meals.

Hot Compost: Compost that has been processed with high temperatures to neutralize pathogens in the compost.

Humus: Organic matter that has reached a point of stability, where it will break down no further and might, if conditions do not change, remain as it is for centuries, if not millennia. In agriculture, humus is also used to describe mature compost or natural compost extracted from a forest. This dark brown or black, fully-decomposed organic matter is the end result of the actions of bacteria and fungi.

Leaf Mold: A form of compost from decomposed by the fungal breakdown of shrub and tree leaves, which are generally too dry, acidic, or low in nitrogen for bacterial decomposition. 

Mycorrhiza: The symbiotic relationship between fungal mycelium and the roots of a vascular plant. Derived from the Greek words "myco" meaning fungi and "rhiza" meaning root. Mycorrhiza are an important fungal component of the soil ecosystem.

Organic Matter: Matter from a once-living organism; capable of decay, or the product of decay; or is composed of organic compounds.

pH: pH is a measure of concentration of hydrogen ions to determine acidity or akalinity (basicity) of an aqueous solution or soil. The more hydrogen ions, the more acidic a material is. pH is rated on a scale from 1 - 14. Solutions with a pH less than 7 are said to be acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are akaline or basic.  

Red Wigglers: A common term for the Eisenia foetida and/or Eisenia andrei species of earthworms.

Rhizomorphic bacteria and fungi: Soil-dwelling microorganisms that enhance a plants ability to take up nutrients from soil.

Root Exudates: Simple sugars, proteins, carbohydrates, hormones released by plants into the soil of the root zone. Root exudates attract and encourage the growth of bacteria and fungi in the rhizosphere.

Root Zone/ Rhizosphere:The region of soil where a plants roots reside. This region is directly influenced by root exudates (secretions) and associated soil dwelling organisms. 

Soil Food Web: The community of organisms living in the soil. A complex living system in the soil and its relationship with the environment, plants, and animals. The soil food web describe the exchange of energy between species in the soil ecosystem.  

Thermophile: A bacterium or other microorganism that grows best at higher than normal temperatures.

Vermicompost: The end product of composting primarily utilizing a concentrated population of various species of earthworms to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposed organic matter. A nutrient-rich organic fertilizer and soil conditioner in a form easy for plants to absorb.